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Affiliate marketing is easy.
Sometimes, gurus can make affiliate marketing appear as if it’s the hardest thing in the world so they can sell you their secret tool that will make things simple for you.
They’d make it seem as if you don’t use their done-for-you systems, you’re doomed to fail.
In a lot of cases, the blame can be placed on the affiliate because they just don’t want to do the work. It’s cool – we all have that lazy side that just begs for the done-for-you systems and the secret tools but the ones who actually succeed are the ones who are putting in the work and following the process.
Affiliate marketing is easy and even though there are different ways to do it, it all comes down to following a simple 4 step process.
I’m going to break down that simple 4 step process right here in this article for you so if you’re struggling to make your first dollar online or you seem to be stuck, then you need to make sure you’re following this process.
If you are following the process, because it’s that easy, then the problem may be in one of the steps. Just identify which step and you’ll be closer to finding the solution that will put you back on the earning track.
Step #1: Find a Niche/Topic
The very first step to take in any business, not just online business or affiliate marketing is to find a niche that you want to target.
A niche is a group of people that all have the same problem or interest. Finding a niche allows you to focus your marketing message where everyone is going to be interested in what you have to say.
When you find a specific niche or topic, it helps you to narrow down the focus of the content you will be producing for your audience. If you go for a more general approach, you’ll find that you cannot cover as much as you would like and your content reaches no one in particular.
How Do You Find a Niche for Affiliate Marketing?
This is a very popular question for many beginners and a point where many end up quitting or making the first mistake leading up to them quitting.
You can make money in just about any niche market online but if you don’t find the right niche for YOU then it may be hard for you to get things going to the point where you’re making money.
So how do you find a niche to get started in affiliate marketing?
One of the best ways I always encourage people to go with is to think about what they’re passionate about and turn that into their niche.
Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
– a wise man.
You may have heard the quote above and this is true for choosing an affiliate marketing niche. If you choose something you’re passionate about then you’ll have a much easier time creating content and you’ll have fun building your business. In the end, you’ll make more money than if you chose something you didn’t know much about and probably picked because you think that it would make more money.
Ask yourself the following questions if you don’t immediately know what you’re passionate about.
If you can provide an answer for these questions and they’re all the same then that is your niche market and the one that you should start with. If you have different answers for each question, then you have choices.
Hobbies, sports you’re involved in, specialized knowledge about a topic or something that you enjoy teaching are all examples of things you may be passionate about.
Being passionate about a topic can help you skip some tasks (or make those tasks easier) in affiliate marketing such as market research, keyword research, coming up with content ideas and so on.
You’ll always be in tune with your audience and can answer any questions they have and better help them to achieve their goal or find a solution to their problem.
You’ll also be able to effortlessly presell products and services that you’re affiliate with and make more commissions because of your genuine knowledge.
In essence, passion trumps all the other methods when it comes to finding a niche for your website.
Another way to find a niche is to find something that you’re very much interested in learning about. For example, if you’re interested in learning about music production, then this interest can lead to you becoming more knowledgeable than someone who is also interested but is still behind you. This way, you can teach them from your experiences.
You do not have to be an expert in any niche online to make money. You just have to know enough to create value for someone else. Just as long as you don’t act like a know-it-all, you’ll be ok.
One other way to find a niche is to do some niche research and this can be long blog post in itself. You can either find a product that is selling well or you know people need then find the niche that this product serves or you can find out what people need help with or have interest in and go from there. You’ll still need to prepare to learn everything you can about that niche in order to be able to help them.
In my opinion, the best way to find your niche market is to go with what you’re passionate about.
I Found a Niche But It May Be Too Saturated
One of the biggest concerns people have about finding a niche is that they may be too late because a lot of other people are already making money with that topic.
There are no saturated niches online, only niches with a lot of competition. And if a niche has a lot of competition, then this means two things:
It’s totally OK for you to target a niche market that appears to have a lot of competition. Your website can still get a lot of traffic and you can still make a lot of money. No one is going to have the same perspective as you when it comes to creating content. You can still create the same content and answer the same questions other affiliates are answering.
There will always be a way to narrow down your topic and create content others aren’t creating. You can find keywords that others haven’t dominated. When you do this, you can get your foot in the door of very competitive niches.
Also, there are lots of other ways to get traffic to your website than just positioning yourself on Google. Even if you don’t think you can outrank bigger websites, you’ll still be able to create videos on YouTube or share your posts on Facebook and other social media websites, buy traffic or create an email list to connect with the traffic you already have.
And, if you chose a niche that you’re passionate about then you’ll be able to compete with the affiliates who have already formed part of this perceived saturation.
How To Look At Your Niche To Get the Big Picture
People often refer to their niche as a keyword. For example, people may say that their niche is “how to lose weight”. Others will refer to their niche as a product they’re selling – “iphone cases”.
When you do this, you limit your scope as to how you can help your niche. You’re going to miss opportunities on what content to create and what products you can affiliate with to make even more money.
A great way to get around this is to adjust the way you define your niche. Your niche is not a keyword and it’s not a product.
Your niche is a group of people with a common interest who you’re trying to help. When you think about your niche, your definition should start with the words “people who _______”.
- people who – want to get a summer body
- people who – want a flatter stomach
- people who – want to learn to make beats with FL Studio
- people who – want to get better at pool
- people who – love watching Netflix
- people who – want to learn affiliate marketing
When you focus on people, you’ll be able to think about what these people experience which can influence what they search for online. This can completely change the keyword that you think is your niche or topic and you can still target it on your website because it still speaks to someone who is within that niche.
If you’re passionate about the topic then the definition of your niche will be you and you can come up with ideas easily based on your own experiences.
Define your niche as “people who” and just remind yourself that these are the people you’re trying to help and you’ll find an endless amount of ways you can help them through creating content for your website.
Step #2: Build Your Website
Around 2005, when I was just getting started, building a website was difficult. It was even more difficult before then.
Today, there are a number of easy solutions for building beautiful websites which don’t require the website owner to have complicated coding knowledge.
WordPress is one of those options and a very popular one because you just need to make an install on your web hosting and it’s pretty much set up for you to just create your content from there.
Things can and do get technical at times but for the most part, it’s easy to get a website online in 2019.
Some simple steps you need to follow after choosing your niche market are:
Buy a Domain Name
So the first step after you decide on a niche market is to buy a domain name which is going to be the website address for your website. A domain name is an essential cost to doing business online. You need a domain name.
It’s possible to get by without getting a domain name by borrowing space on websites where you can write for free. For example, you can create a free blog at WordPress.com or on Medium. But these places all have their own rules and with all the work you’ll be putting in, if something happens to these platforms or you make a mistake, then it’s possible that you could have everything taken away from you overnight.
You need a space that you own and have control over. That is why you need your own website and therefor, your own domain name.
A domain name can either identify your topic or it can be a brand type name. For example, if your topic is “hip hop beats production” then your domain can be something like “makerapbeats.com” which identifies your topic or it can be something like “dabasement.com” which is an example of a brand type domain.
Both types of domains have their pros and cons but either one works. What you don’t want is a domain that is totally unrelated to your topic. For example, if you decide on a niche, buy a domain then change your niche, you won’t be able to use that domain for your new topic. “Makerapbeats.com” is not going to work as a domain name for a diet website. For people who want to lose weight, “DaBasement.com” would feel very disconnected from dieting as well.
The perfect domain is short and memorable, does not have numbers or confusing spelling. You should also always try to get a domain name with the .com extension. You want a domain name that people are going to remember and can easily type into the address bar to find your website again.
I chose OrangeSunsets.com as a brand type domain name so that I can write about topics on making money with a side hustle whether online or offline. Orange Sunsets refer to the dream most people have of sitting on the beach with no care in the world watching the afternoon sunset, probably on a vacation because they’re financially free.
OrangeSunsets.com is only 13 characters long and it’s two dictionary words so it’s memorable and works as a brand.
One thing you should stay away from when choosing a domain name is not to use other company brand names. These companies have copyright restrictions on other people using their names and can seize your domain name or take you to court over the usage.
You wouldn’t want to use a domain name like “AmazonDeals.com” or “FunnyFacebookVideos.com” because those would be examples of using other people’s brand names. I’ve seen people get around this the right way by using for example “AzonDeals.com” or “FunnyFBVideos.com”. Those names can give the same picture without any infringements.
Where To Buy a Domain Name
There are lots of places where you can buy a domain name online but not all domain name registrars are equal. Domain name prices vary from registrar to registrar and some may even employ misleading tactics to sell their domains.
Some domain registrars may offer you a domain name for dirt cheap then hit you with the normal pricing on renewals. That normal pricing may be more expensive than other registrars. Some web hosts will offer you a free domain name when you purchase web hosting from them but the cost is nearly always included in their overpriced hosting or their may be some other condition.
One rule of thumb you should always follow is to never buy your domain name and web hosting from the same place. Try not to buy domain names from web hosts either. There are domain name registrars that deal only (or primarily) with domain names and these are the perfect places to buy domain names.
The cost of a domain name can vary from around $6.99 all the way up to $15.99 for a .com.
Some popular places where you can get a domain name include GoDaddy, NameCheap and 1&1. NameCheap is an OK registrar and I do recommend them if you want to get a domain from there. I however would encourage you to avoid GoDaddy and 1&1.
However, there is one where you can get a domain name cheaper than NameCheap and they’re very transparent about their pricing. That domain registrar I’m talking about is NameSilo, my #1 recommended place to buy a domain name. Domains are always about $8.99 and will renew at that price. There are also a number of ways for you to get a discount on domains. If you want to register your first domain, you can try the coupon code ORANGESUN1 to get $1 off your purchase.
How To Choose the Best Web Host
After you get a domain, the next step would be to build a website so that you can connect with people when they type it into their browser.
To display your website, you’ll need servers to serve up your pages and this is where website hosting comes in.
Finding a great web host though can be a task in itself. Web hosts differ vastly in quality and from all the reviews I’ve seen on hundreds of web hosts, they all seem to have some good and some bad about them.
Usually when starting out, you won’t need a lot of web hosting resources but you’ll still need to think about growth in your online business especially if you’re going to be taking this as serious as I want you to.
Most web hosts will do for brand new websites but eventually if you’re consistently growing your website, you’ll need web hosting that can withstand the increase in traffic and interaction on your websites.
One of the most popular web hosts you’ll see being recommended is Bluehost. I’ve hosted my websites with them before but has a bad experience and decided to leave.
Bluehost is part of an huge network of web hosts owned by a company called Endurance International Group or EIG. The company also owns other hosts like Hostgator, Fat Cow, iPage and Hostmonster just to name a few.
The thing about EIG owned web hosts is that you’re recommended to stay away from these web hosts. The company regularly buys out great web hosts and then limits their resources to the point where the quality goes down the drain. Hostgator used to be a great web host but now you’d be lucky to hear anyone say anything good about them.
Your best option is to pick a non-EIG owned web host that is optimized for WordPress hosting. Look out for good reviews on the following things:
- Support and customer service
Four web hosts that I’d recommend would be:
I’ll review all these web hosts in upcoming posts. My top pick here would be SiteGround.
Alternative Website Builders
With some web hosts, web hosting is their secondary product while their proprietary website builder is their main product. This is try of companies like Weebly, Squarespace and Wix, three of the most popular website builders online and rivals of WordPress.
These website builders can allow you to get up a beautiful website just as well as WordPress but they also have a few disadvantages.
Firstly, WordPress is open source which means that there is a huge community of contributors and a gigantic marketplace where you can get an infinite amount of themes, template designs, plugins for additional functionality and fast moving upgrades to the platform.
Secondly, WordPress is accessible to a lot more people, so there will be more training, tutorials and more familiarity where you can always ask for help and people know the solution.
Still, if you’re not feeling WordPress, the other alternatives can be nice and can work well. I have a friend who chose to go with Squarespace and she has a very good site that she finds easier to manage than WordPress so it’s a matter of personal choice.
These alternatives don’t have as much themes or templates and some of their functionality is very limited. They do offer a lot of the basics you’ll need in a website though.
Building Your First Website
Building your first website may sound off-putting if you’re a newcomer but don’t be discouraged at all. Web hosts usually make it easy for their customers to get WordPress installed and you can be writing your first piece of content after just 5 minutes.
The general process though would be for you to:
- Install WordPress – some hosts have a 1 click install and you’ll be ready to go in minutes
- Connect your domain name – so that there’s a connection between your host and the domain registrar
- Log in to your new site and change some settings
- Install a free or premium theme – this is your website’s design
- Add pages and write content – add essential pages (about, contact etc) and your website’s first posts.
When you’ve done all this, your website is officially ready for you to show off to the world.
An Easier Way To Do It All
If you’re just getting started, there is an easier way to build your websites and incorporate all 4 steps on this page into your online business.
Wealthy Affiliate is a website where you can learn how to do affiliate marketing and the 4 steps here are the pillars of their training.
You wouldn’t need to go looking for a web host because as a member, Wealthy Affiliate has everything you need built into the membership including web hosting so that you wouldn’t need to purchase any external products as you learn.
There is also a website builder that is based on WordPress called SiteRubix. This website builder gets your site up and running in under a minute and has lots of advanced features built into it.
Technical support is very fast and there is also the very active community available for help when you have questions or need help with the training.
To learn more about Wealthy Affiliate check out my full review and join for free to get affiliate marketing training and build your first website.
Step #3: Create Traffic-Generating Content
Creating a website may be easy in 2019 but it’s worthless if no one can see it. The third step to creating affiliate success is to create traffic-generating content.
You’ll notice that I didn’t just say you need to create content. The reason you’re creating content is to get people to your website and there is a very specific way you need to create content if you want to attract website visitors.
Also, content here isn’t just articles. It can be anything from videos, emails, social media posts, infographics or even answers on sites like Quora.
For the sake of this article though, we’re going to talk about website content that you’ll be writing to attract visitors through search engines like Google and Bing. Writing articles (like the one you’re reading) is a great, free way of getting people to come to your website so you can help them with questions or concerns that they’re having.
What to Write About on Your Website
If you chose something that you’re passionate about as your niche market, then knowing your audience and the questions they’re having, what they’re looking for online and any products they’re using will be known to you without much research.
You’ll have an idea of what to write about on your website to attract the right people.
If you chose your niche through research then you can always figure out what people are looking for by doing research and figuring out what questions your niche is asking, what products they’re looking for and other content ideas.
You’ll write about these topics first to help answer in a satisfactory manner any questions your reader may have. Secondly, since your goal is to make money, you’ll recommend products you think will help your reader solve their problem.
Some types of content you can write for your website are:
- Answers to general questions your niche might have
- How-to tutorials and articles
- Product reviews
- Book recommendations
- Articles on personal experience
When you know your niche, it will be easier to know just what to write about and you’ll write regularly and connect with readers a lot better, leading to trust and eventually sales commissions.
Help! I Can’t Write
One of the things that hold people back from starting is that they believe that they cannot write.
Sometimes, I would get a couple paragraphs from someone who needs my advice and they’ll communicate to me clearly that they don’t think they’ll be able to do affiliate marketing because they can’t write or don’t know what to write about.
In my opinion, unless you’re truly illiterate, everyone can write.
I’m sure you’ve written emails before or long Facebook posts or letters to your friends. Or maybe you’ve even commented on a blog or Facebook post to share your opinion on a topic that interests you. If this is the case then you can write and website content is no different.
When you look at all the long in-depth content available on the internet, it might seem as if you can’t do the same or communicate on that level to your audience but you’d be wrong. You can.
My first article ever was under 200 words long. That is not a lot of words and shouldn’t even be called an article. Now I write posts that are over 1000 words with some going as much as 7000 words.
My secret is to know what your topic is and outline how you’re going to answer the question. Even a product review should be framed as a question. For example, a product on Amazon up for review could be framed as “should I buy this product or not? Is it any good?” You can then outline the answer breaking it up into several sections to create a 600 – 1000 word article.
Some people have trouble writing and this can be for any reason from not being a native English speaker to fear of being judged on their writing skills. There are always ways to overcome these obstacles such as:
- recording an audio note on your smartphone and transcribing it
- hiring a quality writer for cheap
- asking a friend to edit your content after you’ve written it.
My point is, even if you think that you can’t write, don’t let that stop you from starting an affiliate marketing business. Below, I’ve listed a couple of alternatives to written content that you can consider.
Different Types of Content
People can make money, sometimes exclusively, by creating content other than website articles or blog posts.
I’ve seen success stories of people making money in other ways online without having to do much writing. One guy made over $7 million dollars promoting affiliate offers in just 12 months. People regularly create YouTube videos that make a full time income for them.
Examples of content you can create that aren’t website articles or blog posts include:
- emails (email marketing)
- videos (YouTube marketing)
- live videos (Think Instagram or Facebook)
- photos (Instagram)
- user-generated content (building a community through Facebook groups)
There are many creative ways to earn money through affiliate marketing. As long as your content is within the guidelines and abides by the advertisers rules and regulations, thinking outside the box can be rewarding.
You SHOULD still have a website though.
Step #4: Monetize with Relevant Affiliate Offers
The last step is the one that ties everything together and get rewarded for all the hard work you put in.
Before you even start, you should have an idea of at least one product you can promote as a solution to your niche market’s problems. There will be more opportunities to add more products and affiliate programs as you go along.
Earning comes in direct relation to the work you put in. Don’t expect to write one or two articles and make money overnight. If you’re looking to get free traffic from search engines, prepare to work on your website for at least three months posting regular, quality content. Some people make their first commissions within their first month and some can take a lot longer.
How much you earn and how long it takes to start earning depends on a lot of different variables so you should really focus more on producing quality content instead of earning.
Also, there are other ways to monetize your website besides affiliate offers so keep that in mind too. Starting out though, your focus should be on step 3 – building traffic by producing content for your website.
Affiliate programs are the best way to monetize your website because you can make big commissions per sale usually from 5% – 75% in most cases.
Where to Find Affiliate Programs That Match Your Website
There are four ways in which you can find affiliate programs.
- Affiliate networks
- affiliate program directories
- Google search
- product website affiliate page
The main way to find affiliate programs would be to check affiliate networks like Clickbank, Shareasale and CJ.com. Affiliate networks provide you with a collection of advertisers that you can connect with and join to promote.
The big advantage of affiliate networks is that you can have all your commissions paid to you by the network in one payment instead of several payments from different advertisers. There is also the issue of trust where you’re dealing with a third party instead of a company who you may not be familiar with. You can trust that you’ll receive your payments on time when they’re due.
Amazon isn’t considered an affiliate network but they have an affiliate program where you can promote every single product category across the entire site. If you’re looking for a way to promote a product that doesn’t have an affiliate program, then you can check to see if it’s available on Amazon.
Affiliate directories are another way to search for affiliate programs. Carefully curated directories list affiliate programs that you can search through and get the information you need as well as a link where you can join the program. The program may be a part of a network or they may run an independent affiliate program.
Doing a Google search for affiliate programs is yet another way to find programs you wouldn’t find via affiliate networks. For example, if I want to promote “billiard cues”, I could search on Google for “billiard cue affiliate programs” and see which websites come up.
Finally, if you know a product you would like to promote, you can go directly to the product’s website and see if they have an affiliate program. You would usually find the link in the footer under links labelled “affiliate program”, “partners” or simple “affiliates”. Some websites don’t have this link or any indication that they have an affiliate program but you can find the info by doing a Google search for the product name + “affiliate program”.
Other Ways of Monetizing Your Website
If you’re getting good traffic, there are other ways of monetizing your website. Showing contextual ads (ads related to the content on your website) is one way.
Google Adsense is a good source for monetizing your website with contextual ads. The downside is that they can take the focus away from your affiliate offers. However, if you’re getting good traffic then you can make good money with contextual advertising. This type of monetization is where you get paid for impressions and clicks on ads instead of sales.
You can also sell advertising space on your website directly to advertisers who wish to pay you for placements. You sell them space for a fixed amount and collect your money upfront.
Your Website is an Asset (You Can Sell It)
Here’s one thing to keep in mind when you’re building your websites. Your site is like real estate on the internet, growing in value as you add more and more content to it.
You have an asset that you can eventually sell based on how much your site is earning. What you should do is to set a goal on how much you want your website to earn before you consider selling it. Sites can sell for up to 30 times what they’re earning on a monthly basis so if you’re making $5000 per month then your website may be sold for up to $150,000 on marketplaces like Empire Flippers.
If you’re earning $5000 per month from a website you built from scratch though, why not choose a bigger goal (say $10,000) instead of selling something you put a lot of sweat into. You’d still be earning a lot of money probably for years to come from all that hard work.
The four steps mentioned above is all you need to follow to make money online with affiliate marketing.
- Find a niche
- build your website
- create content
- and place your affiliate links to earn
There are additional steps that you can take to increase your chances of success or your income but the basics will always remain the same. Also none of this would work if you’re not consistent or you try to take shortcuts.
Joining an affiliate marketing training website like Wealthy Affiliate can ensure that all these steps are focused on and that you have all the resources you need at your finger tips. Wealthy Affiliate’s training was build around these four pillars so there is no way you can fail if you take consistent action.
The training website is free to join and you can access some training lessons as well as build your first website. Get started on your online affiliate business today with these four steps.